Funeral homes owned and managed by younger people is uncommon, but for 28-year-old Loudon Funeral Home owner Matthew Mott, being a director and embalmer is his passion.
Mott, who moved to Loudon from Clinton two years ago, has been immersed in the business for the entirety of his upbringing.
“I grew up right beside a funeral home,” Mott said. “My dad worked at a funeral home, so I lived in the house right beside it, so I was kind of there. Kids went to daycare; I went to the funeral home. It’s been something that’s stuck with me. I didn’t know right out of high school that I was going to be doing this. I moved away for a few years and then went to mortuary school in Nashville.”
Though he broke away from the industry when he moved to North Carolina with his wife, he felt pulled to what has become a family tradition.
“I don’t know if there’s one thing that led me to doing it,” he said. “It was just kind of something that was normal to me. I know it’s not for most people. ... It was just kind of something that was in the back of my mind that I knew that I would always do, but I just woke up one day and said, ‘Let’s go ahead and do this’.”
After becoming a licensed funeral director and embalmer in Nashville, Mott learned the previous owner, Malcolm Williams, was in need of help. Mott became the owner in January 2017, and his young age became an immediate and interesting factor when working with clients.
“Most of the time when you walk into a funeral home, you see people that are maybe a little bit older,” he said. “I would say from an experience standpoint, just being around the funeral home makes it a little bit easier. What we do, it’s all about people and knowing how to talk to all types of people. It’s not like other jobs where usually whatever profession you work in, your clientele is kind of the same. With us, it’s exactly the opposite. Most of the people that come in here are older than we are. It’s kind of intimidating at first, and a lot of the people that we didn’t know, they walk in here and they look at us funny and ask questions, but once they see we’re committed to doing things the right way, it’s good for them to see someone that’s relatively young doing this, and once people trust it, it gives us a lot of confidence, too.”
Madison McKamey, an apprentice, “he’s 23, and you put both of us at the door there, it’s kind of odd,” Mott added.
McKamey, who began working with Mott in April, lacks the same childhood experience, but he understands Mott’s passion for helping others. McKamey temporarily worked with Mott’s father when he would return to Clinton during summer breaks from college.
“I went there not expecting anything, had no desire, had no idea I was going to be in this business,” McKamey said. “I worked that summer and just absolutely fell in love with it. Totally caught me by surprise. I never expected to be doing this. Just being able to help people and be there for them in this time, it’s very rewarding when it’s done right.”
He is now pursuing his funeral director and embalming license from John A. Gupton College in Nashville.
Mott has learned there are advantages to owning a funeral home at 28.
“Our hours are never set or anything,” he said. “Us being a little bit younger, it’s easier for us to get out of bed at 2 o’clock in the morning when something happens and we need to get up. I feel like it’s a little bit of an advantage, but people look at us and it’s hard for them to trust us at first for being so young.”
Growing up in the industry, Mott is used to dealing with adversity, but there have been circumstances where he experiences sadness.
“I guess the question that most people want to know, most people ask, ‘Do you become detached from it?’ or ‘Do you take it home with you?’ or ‘How does it sit with you?’” Mott said. “To me, obviously, you’ve got extreme circumstances, whether it be a child, young person, whatever the case may be where nobody that’s normal can handle those types of things and move on. I think really just being able to help someone at the worst time of their life not only makes it easier for them, but it makes it easier for us because it’s like we have a real purpose here.”
Rather than succumbing to the sadness attributing with death, Mott feels the business is a way to help others during loss.
“From the funeral director part of it, it’s tough for anybody to do this because it’s kind of sad, really, but it’s more, for myself and Madison and everybody that works here, it’s almost a ministry,” he said. “We can help people at the worst time of their life. Even if we can make it a little bit easier, it’s worth it. That’s what motivates us.”